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How you can Change Your MAC Address on Linux – Guide
Unlike other complex network-related tasks, changing your device’s MAC address is quite easy under Linux.
Changing your system’s MAC address allows you to impersonate other devices on the same network. This way, you can receive data packets that were originally intended for the other device. This process is known as MAC spoofing.
On Linux, you can find numerous tools to change your device’s MAC address. But finding a reliable and stable utility that does the job well is really tricky considering the number of options available to a user.
At the final, you will have a brief understanding of MAC addresses and how to spoof your MAC address on Linux.
What is a MAC address?
A MAC address, or media access control address, is a unique hexadecimal identifier used to identify a device on a network. It is also known as the “physical address” of a machine as it is built into the Network Interface Card (NIC) of the device.
This is what a MAC address looks like:
55: from: bc: 7d: 45: df
Each device receives a unique MAC address during its manufacture. It is because of MAC addresses that you can uniquely identify millions of devices connected to the Internet.
In the OSI network model, MAC addresses are responsible for sending data to the correct device at the Data Link layer.
Change your MAC address on Linux
There are several reasons why you might want to change your device’s MAC address. Maybe you want to bypass security restrictions on a network, or maybe you want to mimic another device on the network to capture packets.
Whatever the reason, Linux tools help you. See how you can spoof your MAC address on Linux.
Macchanger is a terminal-based Linux utility that allows the user to change the default MAC address of their device.
To install it on Debian / Ubuntu:
sudo apt install macchanger
On Fedora, CentOS or other RHEL-based distros:
sudo dnf install macchanger
sudo yum install macchanger
To install macchanger on Arch Linux:
sudo pacman -S macchanger
You will see a prompt asking if you want to change your system’s MAC address whenever you restart a network device (including Ethernet and Wi-Fi). Select No and press Enter to continue.
Before you start practicing, you first need to check the network interface names on your device. To do this, type:
On output, the network interface name for ethernet is eth0. Likewise, for Wi-Fi, the interface name will be wlan0 or wlp3s0.
You can easily identify the network interface names if the labels are different for your system. Interface names starting with “w” will be associated with Wi-Fi, while interface names for ethernet will always start with “e”.
To check your machine’s current physical address, type:
macchanger interface -s
… Where interface is the name of the network interface you want information about.
To assign a random MAC address to your machine using macchanger, use the -r flag:
macchanger interface -r
For example, to change the physical address of the eth0 interface:
sudo macchanger -r eth0
Macchanger will display the original address and the current (modified) address on output.
In addition to assigning a random address, you can also set a custom MAC address for your device. Just use the -m flag with the standard command as follows:
sudo macchanger -m custom address interface
… Where custom-address is the new MAC address you want to assign and interface is the name of the network interface.
To assign a custom MAC address to the eth0 interface:
sudo macchanger -m 44: ee: bc: 6c: 76: ba eth0
With macchanger, you don’t need to memorize your device’s original MAC address for future reference. You can easily reset changes back to default using the -p flag:
sudo macchanger -p eth0
Using ip and ifconfig commands
While macchanger is easy to use and suitable for beginners, advanced Linux users who want more control over the operation may prefer to use the ip command.
But first, make sure you write down the interface’s original MAC address before modifying it. After changing the MAC address using the commands mentioned below, there is no option to revert to the original address automatically. You will have to manually change the modified address to the original MAC.
Before changing your device’s MAC address using ip, you will have to turn off the network interface.
sudo ip link set dev eth0 down
Then change the original MAC to a custom address as follows:
sudo ip link set dev eth0 address 44: ee: bc: 6c: 76: ba
Restart the network interface using ip:
sudo ip link set dev eth0 up
Check if the mentioned command worked by typing ip addr in the terminal.
change the linux address of the mac using the ip link
An alternative form of MAC spoofing is using the ifconfig command. Ifconfig stands for Interface Config and is a standard Linux utility used to manage network interfaces.
Like the ip command, you will have to shut down the interface before changing your machine’s physical address using ifconfig.
sudo ifconfig eth0 down
Then assign a custom MAC address to the interface.
sudo ifconfig eth0 hw ether 44: ee: bc: 6c: 76: ba
Restart the network interface using ifconfig as follows:
sudo ifconfig eth0 up
To change the MAC address of a wireless interface (wlan0, for example), just replace the occurrence of eth0 in the command with the name of the wireless interface.
Sudo ifconfig wlan0 hw ether 44: ee: bc: 6c
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